[Workshop] Governance toolbox to improve our projects

I kind of feel my oral presentation from yesterday wasn’t really clear, so let’s write it down :wink:

Basically, I’m interested in having a workshop on the topic of governance and how we can practically set it up and make it evolve in various projects (software and also non-software projects).

Context

From my experience (and as outlined in this writing, the discussion about governance in really small projects is usually postponed for a long time, either for lack of time, ressources or interest.

However, as the group grows, it becomes incredibly harder to organize and work together in a meaningful and democratic way, and this raises several questions that can directly impact the project’s life if left unanswered:

  • How can newcomers understand the working of the group and contribute?
  • How can the group ensure the projects stays on track?
  • What are the core values of the group?
  • How are decisions made?
  • How do we build an inclusive space?

Answer to these questions typically vary based on the group size, growth, goals, values and other factors, but I believe there are some common parts and processes that I’d like to research and understand.

Proposal

Given this context, my suggestion is to have a workshop focusing on governance tools, methodologies and processes that can be used to carry successful and democratic projects, such as:

  • Roadmaps, mission statements: what do we want to do?
  • Voting systems: how do we decide?
  • Discussion boards, chats, meetings: how do we communicate?
  • Modaration and code of conducts: what do we do when things go wrong?
  • Etc. (I’m sure you also have your own ideas for this list)

I think we could extend this list and articulate it in a document that could be useful for new or existing projects who want to tackle governance issues, possibly with links to existing projects and explanation about each tool pros and cans, so organizers can understand how and why these are used in context.

Let me know how it sounds :slight_smile:

Related topics

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In the dining room

Organizing our thoughts to create a discussion for a collective project framework/pipeline allowing fluidity in constant

  • defining a core
  • maintaining the integrity of a core
  • defining ways of acknowledging changes
  • including newcomers

here is a first thought, taken from game dev (so, very formally tied to the way we view specific game creative formats, potentials and constraints)

Zac McClendon A Practical Framework for Holistic Design Iteration

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Still in the dining room

A discussion about the necessity, in welcoming newcomers and taking care of our core, to provide an ample imagination, and allow all kinds of sensibilities.

  • Having a virtual, welcoming framework, where our RL discussions and contradictions could leave a trace, a stitch on a white page, serving as a path and as a trace.

  • Implementing simple, minimalist rules to allow fluid display, easy mark ups

  • Inviting members to create a virtual self, in direct dialogue with RL self - two canevas always influencing each others : RL for human bonding, space aesthetics and contradictions ; VL for conclusions, tools, ressources

  • The joy of being part of, of being acknowledged as a member, an individuality in perpetual dialogue with the collective, at any point in time

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Infrastructure as care

<3

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I love the idea of infrastructure as care too!

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we connect solidarity and infrastructure

Following @sabrina’s suggestion that Discourse’s “badge system” messages are encouraging, but “earning a badge” fails to strike the right chord, I changed the verb from “Earned” to “Discovered”. It’s not entirely satisfying yet, but I’m eager to pursue the experiment with caring as infrastructure, which to me sounds like another dimension of infrastructure as care.

And to diffract this with the concept of common time mentioned in the Self-organization topic this morning, I’d like to propose further a break from the original proposed schedule, which already naturally drifted away from linear time and preconceived time with each and everyone’s rhythm, and try and focus on this ideapraxis of care, bringing it to the Solidarity session tomorrow morning.

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Quotes from Bernard Aspe on common time:

Inséparer
« Nous sommes embarqués », certainement ; le tout est de savoir comment. On peut bien invoquer une condition commune, qui est celle des habitants d’une planète exposée aux risques de transformations soudaines. Mais cela ne nous autorise pas à dire que cette condition est celle de l’inséparation. Ce qu’il y a d’inséparé entre les êtres est toujours localisé. Il correspond à ce que Gilbert Simondon appelle le « transindividuel ». L’inséparé, qui existe localement entre quelques êtres, est l’enjeu d’un travail dialectique – un travail d’inséparation. Un travail qui se reconnaît à ceci qu’il permet d’abriter l’expérience d’un temps commun. L’existence même du temps commun est l’enjeu essentiel de la politique aujourd’hui, et la condition d’une action à la mesure de la situation. Car ce qu’impose avant tout l’ennemi aujourd’hui, c’est bien une certaine forme du temps, qu’il s’agit de briser.

Inseparating
“We are all onboard the same ship”, certainly. The problem is to understand how. One can of course refer to a common condition, that of dwellers of a planet exposed to threats of sudden transformations. But this does not authorize us to claim that this condition is one of inseparation. What is inseparated among beings is always localized. It corresponds to what Gilbert Simondon called the “transindividual”. The inseparated which exists locally between beings is a matter of dialectic work—a work of inseparation. This work is characterized by its capacity to provide a space for experiencing a common time. The existence of such a common time is crucially at stake in what we call « politics » today, it is the precondition to acting in face of a certain situation. For what is imposed by our enemy today is first and foremost a certain form of time, which needs to be broken.

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Thinking about “inserts”, as spaces in between and the idea that we can find ways to organize and coordinate between our shared time - and make this time together better : how to care and acknowledge the physical presence of others, and their implication in the collective.

And inserts as the spaces between us, acknowledging boundaries and the subtleties of consent.

so two kind of times ?

  • common/shared times
  • in-between times

A tentative framework toolbox

Dynamics

  • Self-Organization through transindividualist dialogue and practice
  • Solidarity as collective work - solidity of equivalences, presence of Core
  • Infrastructure of Care - framework defining Core coherency through times

common time (accepting paradoxes) :: leaving no traces

  • taking the time to question processes and Core
  • self organization based on consent and care
  • bond over empathy circles, praxis of collective help
  • applied workshops, emphasis on group solidarity
  • constant checking of inclusivity problems
  • transindividualism dialogue between separation and gathering
  • acknowledging blockages together and sharing ressources
  • minimalist daily documentation to provide stigmergic packages

in-betweens (resolving paradoxes) :: leave traces

  • emanations of selves on minimalist canevas
  • acknowledging activity of the individual AND the collective
  • using stigmergic packages to iterate new common time Core
  • active documentation for tech inclusivity, bibliography and glossary
  • collective engineering of Core yard sale
  • tech references for use in coordination and inclusion
  • votes && constraints

Maybe “infrastructure” is informing too strongly our world model ? (from a discussion with @i_lie)

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Catching up here, maybe we can sit together, I’m at Peacock but can join you anywhere.

I like this a lot. Maybe the word practice could better intra-act as praxis.

Also like with infrastructure, “inclusivity problems” would rather be “boundary issues”, because in an intra-active understanding, the transindividual – e.g., the commons, if we follow Elinor Ostrom, require exclusivity as well as “being inclusive” in the sense we usually take for granted in our activist circles.

8 Principles for Managing a Commons

From https://www.sociocracy.info/ostrom-eight-rules-for-successfully-governing-a-commons/

1a. User Boundaries: Clear and locally understood boundaries between legitimate users and nonusers.

1b. Resource Boundaries: Clear boundaries that separate a specific common-pool resource (CPR) from a larger social-ecological system.

2a. Congruence with local social and environmental conditions.

2b. Appropriation and provision: Appropriation rules are congruent with provision rules; the distribution of costs is proportional to the distribution of benefits.

3. Collective-Choice Arrangements: Most individuals affected by a resource regime are authorized to participate in making and modifying its rules.

4a. Monitoring Users: Individuals who are accountable to or are the users monitor the appropriation and provision levels of the users.

4b. Monitoring the Resource: Individuals who are accountable to or are the users monitor the condition of the resource.

5. Graduated Sanctions: Sanctions for rule violations start very low but become stronger if a user repeatedly violates a rule.

6. Conflict-Resolution Mechanisms: Rapid, low-cost, local arenas exist for resolving conflicts among users or with officials.

7. Minimal Recognition of Rights: The rights of local users to make their own rules are recognized by the government.

8. Nested Enterprises: When a common-pool resource is closely connected to a larger social-ecological system, governance activities are organized in multiple nested layers.

I now understand what you meant about writing code :wink: I love this compression, but for better understanding of what “stigmergic packages” are: this means to (more or less) continuously emit signals to “the community” so that others can pick up from there.

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t…hinkin…k

The « me » as a carring tool for infrastructure, solidarity and self-organisation.

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I’m sorry I haven’t been able to follow the discussion as much as I’d like. I like the structure suggested by @sabrina and I think it could be a good foundation point for the workshop tomorrow. I’m not 100% sure I understand everything, in particular the “core” and the “pararox” concepts, but my brain is really foggy and I’m sure I’ll pick it up tomorrow :wink:

CORE

  • a set of parameters défining the state of the project at boot time
  • maintening integrity of the Core throughout process - a priority
  • expanding size of yard sale based on discoveries and/or new members

PARADOX

  • conflicting feedback of daily bonding and decision process
  • adressed by acknowledging fragility, mistakes, misunderstandings
  • paradox needs care, attention and open collective discussions

two references from the AG

https://opensource.com/open-organization/resources/open-org-maturity-model (from tierce - in english)

https://www.jssj.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/JSSJ5-3-fr1.pdf (from stephanie - in french)

Link to working pad: https://pad.funkwhale.audio/thx-workshop#

A very summarized french version open-org-grille florence 2 (la bonne, revue par tierce).odt (25.2 KB)

I do not consider this « model » as suited for THX, but I believe that there are some interesting considerations to take from it.

:zebra: I’ll try to provide an English version if I’m inspired.

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A copy of the pad follows.

THX workshop - organization

Links

A tentative framework toolbox

Tentative de boîte à outils d’infrastructure

Dynamics

Dynamiques

Self-Organization through transindividualist dialogue and practice

Autonomie grâce au dialogue et à la pratique transindividualiste

Conversation enables self-reflexive, iterative, long term, historical and organic knowledge building.

we use the space/lab as smallest common denominator, that substitutes the feeling of belonging through sharing labels (race, class, gender) with the feeling of belonging through sharing a space.
This implies that the space/lab needs to constantly checks its relation to commonly acknowledged social “labels”, see below, constantly check liminal/boundary spaces

Solidarity as collective work - solidity of equivalences, presence of Core

La solidarité comme travail collectif - solidité des équivalences, présence du Noyau

Just wanted to mention it begins with your idea and my believe is:
As more “independent” your project is as more collective it becomes, so my wish:
Do not do clones of commercial products.
Question: Do you know places where OpenSource ideas and people come together to work on the same project? FOSDEM / CCC / MozFest / …

Independent is a term that needs to be clarified, the condition of not cloning commercial projects is essential, but also the transversality of working along different activists/non activists domains, the organizations cited above seem to comply quite easily with liberal model, I am not sure it is possible to change anything from there.

New people bring in questions and usually want to re-negotiate rules, this is why we regularly re-vise and re-negotiate what the collective work is about. If there are more activists in the chair, our program gravitates towards activist events, if there are more artists, we use artistic methods, if there are more tech-enthusiasts we do more open source stuff.

With intra-action and inseparation, considering “objects” becomes a matter of transitional way to practically exchange ideas, concepts, to enable a common use of the language; therefore the re-negotiation should keep into focus the actual singular individuation that the collective has been taking: forking[1] might signal incompatibility – cf. Elinor Ostrom principles of managing commons.

Solidarity includes intra-action but goes beyond it it implies active research of invisibilised fights, I always have this flyer on my desk to remind me daily of this:


Do not feel disempowered when lifting up one’s eyes and understanding the structural intrication of causes, we are here together.
Solidarity also implies taking risks at the capacity that one can, engaging in a non condescending way with reality, cultivating a confidence in our collective agency and one’s own capacities.

Praxis of Care - framework defining Core coherency through times

Praxis du Soin - Infrastructure définissant la cohérence du Noyau dans le temps

For Funkwhale, we’ve been encoding our values and goals in two documents:

  • our statutes as a high-level overview of our long-term aspirations, constraints, values and organization
  • our roadmap: with short or medium term, project-related goals and priorities

Common time (accepting paradoxes) ::

Temps commun (accepter les paradoxes) ::

  • Trying to bind common physical time to online preparation and documentaion.

  • Associer le temps commun physique à une préparation en ligne et documentaire.
    ???
    Frequent virtual meetings e.g. W3C Social Community Group meetings

La caractéristique du temps commun est de nous sortir de la linéarité du temps commercial, un temps en paradoxes: un temps de production et sans enjeux, ensembles et non contraints, respectant et libres, communicant et concentrés.
Le temps commun n’est pas seulement le temps de rencontre physique, iI peut être un temps de rencontre synchrone ou asynchrone en ligne,
Le temps commun est inséparable de l’intra-action.
Le temps commun est ce sur quoi nous construisons, c’est là que nous nous nourrissons que nous comprenons la nature de nos liens.

Not leaving traces

Ne pas laisser de traces

Leaving traces and structured information as important material for other to take over the process.
Laisser des traces et de l’information structurée comme un matériel important pour que les autres puissent reprendre le processus.

Not leaving traces as a way toward inclusion of diverse, sometimes incompatible perspectives; as opposed to leaving traces as a way to delineate political position (cf. Jacques Rancière, Le partage du sensible)
Leaving traces as encouragement for difference to join copy reproduce, address and de-construct what seems incompatible.

taking the time to question processes and Core

Prendre le temps de questionner les processus et le Noyau

At Funkwhale, statutes and roadmap are updated on a regular basis, and this is encoded in our statutes:

  • The statutes are updated on a yearly basis, through general assemblies of the collective
  • The roadmap is updated on a quarterly basis to reflect the aspiration of the community

Governance vs. government: governance has a cybernetic connotation, government has an essentialist tone, in that it fixates a model and iterates from there… Government’s premise is ethics; governance premise is activity?

At Thx it feels that we are in the process of clarifying what is the core, by core I understand both a set of persons and a set of ideas.

self organization based on consent and care

Autonomie reposant sur le consentement et le soin

This implies having many entry points that are accessible from different sensitivities looking around taking a step forward when it feels necessary but also silence as a support or acknowlegement.

bond over empathy circles, praxis of collective help

Se relier dans des cercles d’empathie, praxis de l’aide mutuelle

Those circles are an ever existing human practice that has been chased along history, because it is the way people build agency. Those circles exist everywhere if you look for them, sometimes they are not easy to find at first, but once you got one you often can thread many, do not give up.

applied workshops, emphasis on group solidarity

ateliers pratiques, emphase sur la solidarité collective

To be done

constant checking of boundary issues

vérification constante des limites

For Funkwhale, we used a combination of:

In SocialHub, we decided to postpone the use of a code of conduct, replacing it with a well-being team, explanations here:

We try to generate a safer space at Mz* Baltazar’s Lab.
By encouraging women*, non-binary and transfeminist participants it aims at generating a culture of fearless making. An exclusively environment that fosters creativity, activism and provocative thinking.

It might be nice to apply for grants to build things like

  • a diversity fund to have somebody to create awareness in the countries we do not reach now
  • a travel fund so that people from african, oceanian or asian countries could attend the US/EU-centric events
    Some ideas also in SocialHub and please add yours by clicking “Edit” :
    Community
    Projects

transindividualism dialogue between separation and gathering

dialogue transindividualiste entre séparation et réunification

Multilogue is sometimes used for conversations that are many to many, but dialogue is not bounded to 2 persons, it implies somehow a sited conversation, something that you can come back to. Does transindividual dialogue means dialogue that constructs our subjectivities how do we make it happen how is it different from common time.

acknowledging blockages together and sharing resources

reconnaître les blocages ensemble, partager les ressources

minimalist daily documentation to provide stigmergic packages

documentation quotidienne minimaliste de traces stigmergiques

in-betweens (resolving paradoxes) :: leave traces

L’Entre-Deux (résoudre les paradoxes) :: laisser des traces

emanations of selves on minimalist canevas

émanations de l’Être sur un canevas minimaliste

acknowledging activity of the individual AND the collective

reconnaître l’activité de l’individu ET du collectif

For Funkwhale, one of the approach we use here is to provide summaries of collective and individual work (when it’s relevant to the collective). This is done by:

  • Publishing regular blog entries to reflect the activity of the community and dive deeper
  • Having public or semi-public discussions on forums, chats
  • validate and fixate decisions using community votes
  • Publish regular updates on social network (https://mastodon.eliotberriot.com/@funkwhale)

Relevant tools:

using stigmergic packages to iterate new common time Core

utiliser les traces stigmergiques pour itérer sur le Noyau du temps commun

Note sur le temps commun

Au-delà d’un temps partagé, il s’agit d’un temps non-linéaire de rencontre, de synchronisation transindividuelle. Une différence avec un «temps partagé» serait qu’une recontre dans un bar, dans la rue, dans une conférence ou même le temps passé avec des co-voyageurs dans un train ne fait pas nécessairement communauté ; cependant le «temps commun», hors du temps linéaire, approfondit une relation commune, générant du collectif transindividuel.

Eventually, traces left for others to pick (“stigmergic packages”) activates internal resonance of the collective.

active documentation for tech solutions/issues, bibliography and glossary

documentation active pour problèmes et solutions technologiques, bibliographique et glossaire

  • focus on the resolution of (concrete) problems rather than engaging in a solution space that already dismisses the unknown
  • favor exemplarity – where the example has a value in itself to point at invariants, at some universal that can be discovered/understood from the singularity, not from some abstract idea.
  • facilitate collective iterations over time
    • runbooks offer a good approach: they’re hands-on, based on concrete use-cases to apply a recipe; yet, runbooks can only share repetitive, automatable tasks, not so learning materials beyond basic actions.
    • Consolidate from conversation to wiki+comments to FAQ materials; always keep the conversation open so that revisitation can happen

collective engineering of Core yard sale

entretien collectif du vide-grenier

?

tech references for use in coordination and inclusion

référecences technologiques pour la coordination et l’inclusion

votes && constraints

votes && contraintes

Votes should be of last resort: rough consensus (“we rejects kings, presidents and voting. We believe in rough consensus and running code”) and especially an open conversation enable agonist spaces to unfold the complexity (and paradoxes) of the collective.


  1. forking means a divergence; sometimes, the divergence is temporary, and later code is merged back into the original process. ↩︎

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